NMRto spearhead genetic merit push

2 October 1998

NMRto spearhead genetic merit push

IN a move announced at the dairy event, NMR is set to provide independent breeding advice.

According to NMR, this is needed for UK herds to achieve the genetic merit of other countries, including Dutch herds. The difference is currently worth £270 a cow in margin over purchased feed.

Launching the companys breeding consultancy service, chief executive Robin Turner said average PIN of UK milk recorded herds is £19, whereas Dutch herds average £56 PIN, £37/cow more. "Recent research shows that each £1 PIN increase is worth £7.50 in margin over purchased feed."

UK producers are, therefore, losing out on a potential £270 a cow because the Dutch have made good breeding decisions. Even over the last year the average bull used in the UK was only £44 PIN, said Mr Turner. "NMR consultancy aims to close that gap.

"There is concern about the quality of present advice given to herds. Few individuals or organisations can claim to be independent and offering quality advice.

Using the herds own milk and management records, either from NMR or other sources, NMR breeding consultants will develop a breeding strategy and all breeding animals in the herd will be given a type appraisal. This will lead to a herd report and selection of suitable sires offering the best value for money from a database of 500.

NMR Breeding consultancy will cost £350 to £400 for each day of time used.

In response to NMRs launch, Ann Hardy of the Holstein Friesian Society said that any service which increases the profile of breeding is to be applauded, because the right policy can have a big impact on long term profitability at minimal cost.

HFSs Dave Hewitt added that its Select-a-Bull breeding service is independent, and finds the best mating for each female. Herds classifying animals with HFS already average £40 PIN.

Computerised packages, although not all independent, offer rapid breeding progress by mating individual cows to a shortlist of bulls from a comprehensive database.

"There are 135 decisions to make on linear assessment for each cow. To help select the best bull from a database of 500 you need a computer mating programme."

Select-a-Bulls database includes the latest proof of every bull available in the UK, for use on pedigree and non-pedigree herds.

It allows production and type aims to be set on each farm, and also considers longevity. Decisions are based on genetics, not semen price. A slightly more expensive bull than a pre-set limit could produce a better mating, and semen prices are negotiable.

Select-a-bull costs £4 a cow for linear assesent, or £5 a cow for full type classifications, including a Select-a-Bull run. Additional matings of cows without re-classifications cost £1 each.

ADAS senior consultant, Cate Barrow added that ADAS has offered independent genetic and fertility advice for many years.

Its consultants visit and inspect progeny in many countries and its bull database is updated after each proof run to find bulls offering the best value for money. Using this information ADAS breeding consultants help farmers select bulls for use on the herd.

As part of its service ADAS has begun to negotiate lower prices for top bulls for producers it advises, by exploiting the joint buying power of these producers, but does not sell semen, she adds.

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